Kirsten Mustain

Grove Sun

Grove School Board Member Kenny Wright and Architect Gary Jackson of Hight-Jackson spoke to the Grove Rotary Club Wednesday concerning the school bond election slated for October 13th.

Wright said the bond proposal had been formulated after the schools' Long-Term Strategic Planning Committee, which is comprised of parents and other community members, had set forth its goals for the future of the Grove School system.

"This is the first step," Wright said. "It meets our emergency needs."

He noted that Grove is a growing community, and the school must grow with it.

Jackson compared the burgeoning student population at the schools to a “tsunami.”

"There is a considerable increase in growth in the lower grades," he said. "The facilities can't currently accommodate that wave of growth. Our plan is realistic and necessary."

He noted that classes in the lower grades are expanding at a rate of 21 students per grade every year, while they are expanding at 11 per grade in the upper elementary and middle school, and at 10 per grade in the high school.

In addition, Jackson said, the schools are in need of better security, which would be provided by the proposed new construction.

At the Lower Elementary, plans call for a new administration entrance and a secured vestibule; a cafeteria and kitchen addition, which would double as a play area in inclement weather; a reading garden and playground, and a courtyard.

A new cafeteria would be the primary improvement at the Upper Elementary.

Improvements at the Middle School would include four new classrooms, an entrance canopy and a courtyard.

Originally, the Middle School had been slated for more improvements, due to the poor condition of some of its classrooms. However, after some consideration it was decided that further expansion of that facility would have to be temporarily scrapped because of the cost.

At the High School three classrooms that were part of the original building plan but were later scrapped, and a restroom will be added.

The proposed bond would raise approximately $9.5 million to cover construction costs and transportation needs.

The millage hike, which would not be permanent, would translate to an increase $11.56 per year for every $100 property owners currently pay in property tax.

"Compared to other 4A schools in the state, our millage is the lowest," Wright said.

He stressed that the improvements are necessary.

"There is literally no other way to do this," he said, noting that the upper and lower elementary schools have already had to resort to changing workspaces into classrooms.

"The space is just not adequate," he said. "We have to give our children and our teachers facilities where they can be inspired."

Jackson, who has planned numerous school projects, said the only alternative to the bond would be for the school to rent modular buildings, which would cost about $16,000 per month and would not provide adequate security for students.